UPDATE, 12:05 a.m. Thursday
Denham Springs Civil Service Board voted 4-0 late Wednesday to affirm the firing of Scott Jones as police chief.
Jones’ attorney, Benjamin Chapman, said they will appeal the board’s decision to the 21st Judicial District Court.
Chapman said he was disappointed in the board’s vote, but it was expected.
“Municipal civil service appeals before boards typically do not result in favorable rulings for the employees,” Chapman said.
The attorney said he believed Jones’ lack of direct involvement in the handling of the Chris Davis domestic violence case should have weighed in Jones’ favor with the board.
The grounds for firing that the Civil Service Board upheld were that Jones displayed: an unwillingness or failure to perform his duties in a satisfactory manner; deliberate omission of acts it was his duty to perform; had committed or omitted acts that were prejudicial to the department or public interest; and acts sufficient to show he was unfit to be employed in the Civil Service.
City Attorney Stephanie Hulett said she believes the facts and law supported the board’s decision.
“The chief is a good man, but he was put in a bad situation and made a bad decision,” Hulett said.
UPDATE, 11:52 p.m. Wednesday
Denham Springs Civil Service Board votes 4-0 in affirming the city’s decision to fire Scott Jones as police chief.
UPDATE, 11 P.M.
After five hours of testimony, the Denham Springs Civil Service Board has entered executive session to discuss former Police Chief Scott Jones’ appeal of his termination with their attorney.
Chairwoman Jennifer Barclay said before tonight’s hearing that the board may render a decision tonight, or it may continue the proceedings to another date and vote on the matter then.
ORIGINAL STORY, 10 P.M.
DENHAM SPRINGS — Former Police Chief Scott Jones testified Wednesday that he never gave any instructions to anyone on how to handle Councilman Chris Davis’ domestic violence case, and Davis never asked for any favors.
Jones’ testimony to the Civil Service Board on the fourth night of his appeal of his termination continued past deadline Wednesday. The board was expected to deliberate and potentially render a decision in the case after that testimony.
Jones and his second-in-command, Capt. Steve Kistler, were fired April 7 over their handling of Davis’ case. An investigative committee appointed by Mayor Gerard Landry found that the two officers violated state law and departmental policy by issuing Davis a summons, rather than arresting him, after a Jan. 15 altercation with his wife.
Jones said his knowledge of the Davis matter was limited to what his officers told him until he was able to review the incident report for the first time Jan. 20.
Jones said he was taken aback by what he read.
“My upset was the lack of police work within the report,” Jones said.
Earlier Wednesday night, Kistler testified that the affidavit supporting the city’s warrant for Davis’ arrest did not address whether he had intentionally injured his wife when he hit her head with his truck door.
Both Davises later said the injury was an accident, calling into question the probable cause underlying the arrest warrant, Kistler said.
Kistler testified it was his decision alone to issue a summons in lieu of arrest in the case.
Jones testified he did not object to the issuance of a summons because he understood from Kistler that Assistant District Attorney Blayne Honeycutt had instructed them to proceed that way.
Honeycutt previously testified he had given no instructions on how the case should be handled.
Kistler bristled under questioning from City Attorney Stephanie Hulett on Wednesday, noting early in his testimony that she had accused him on Jan. 28 — weeks before his Feb. 17 notice of investigation — of violating the law in handling the Davis case.
The exchanges between Kistler and Hulett were rapid-fire and often heated, prompting board Chairwoman Jennifer Barclay to warn both of them to watch their tone as they spoke.
Kistler repeatedly said he had never handled another case like the Davis matter in his 34 years of service with the department, though he stressed he did nothing illegal.
Kistler said he initially had no objection to an arrest warrant being issued in the case, but before the warrant was served, he learned Davis’ wife had recanted.
Kistler said that after Robyn Davis told officers the incident was an accident, he gave Chris Davis an opportunity to come in and explain the situation, then decided to issue the summons.
Board members pummeled Kistler with questions about how he could have probable cause to issue a summons if he believed probable cause for the arrest warrant had evaporated.
Kistler said he feared Chris Davis would sue the city for wrongful arrest because Robyn Davis’ revised statement indicated the injury was unintentional.
Asked whether he had ever been concerned that Robyn Davis might sue the city if her husband later hurt her again, Kistler said he had not.
Board member Jerod Stevens, a city firefighter, also asked Kistler whether he realized the Louisiana Legislature changed the domestic violence laws last year in order to increase protections for victims.
Asked whether it was common for victims to recant, Kistler said yes, but there was a difference between a victim wanting to drop the charges and a victim saying the incident was an accident.
Follow Heidi R. Kinchen on Twitter, @HeidiRKinchen, and call her at (225) 336-6981.
Editor’s note: The article was changed on Thursday, June 2, 2016, to correct one of the grounds updheld by the board.